By Brian Bokor
In August 2018, Mike Richards along with his business partner, Nick Gonzalez, held the initial meeting with county leaders to propose their idea of a marina on the Alafia River, Riverview Marina, something desperately needed for the area given the already crowded boat ramps coupled with the influx of new residents. Since then, Richards and his team have dedicated the last 33 months working to clear hurdles associated with rezoning and permitting requirements, and at long last, the end is nearing.
Drivers using U.S. 301 over the Alafia River probably have not yet noticed the first steps of the massive project, seawalls and retention walls, now under construction, which will be followed by pouring a concrete foundation for the main building. After the slab cures, the large metal-framed structure will be constructed on-site, similar to an erector set utilizing a specialized construction crew to complete the job.
General Contractor David Lennon of McCullagh and Scott provided some insight into the unique project: “The 50-foot-tall, pre-engineered building is designed for 150 mph wind speeds with 145 tons of structural steel and 48,280 square feet of corrugated steel siding. Site preparation includes 14,000 cubic yards of fill dirt and 232 lineal feet of upland retaining wall with 22 tons of reinforcing steel and 435 cubic yards of concrete in the slab.”
To put things in perspective, seven semi-trailers will be needed to haul all the steel to the site with roughly 1,000 dump truck loads of dirt and 50 truckloads of concrete used for the foundation.
Once the shell comes together, the 17,000-plus square feet of dry storage will be fitted with levels of interior scaffolding. The boat rack system will be capable of holding 896,000 pounds (448 tons) of boats. Larger vessels will occupy the lower spots, with remaining boats stored based on size from bottom to top.
A 75-foot precast concrete load-out bridge will extend into the Alafia River, dropping boats at the deepest part of river, regardless of tides, utilizing a specialized marina forklift that will lower boats from the storage area, haul them to the water and then repeat the process at the end of the day.
The two other planned buildings, one an office and the other a 600-square-foot waterfront restaurant with outdoor seating serving small food and beverage items, will be completed once the storage facility is operational.
Richards believes the key to their success will come from first-class customer service unlike any offered in the area. Clients of Riverview Marina will be able to prearrange all aspects of their trip, from launching time to items they would like to have ready waiting for them on the boat, by using the SpeedyDock app. The app also gives boaters the option to notify the marina of their return time, allowing sun-soaked boaters to jump off their boat and get into their cars, handing over cleanup and storage duties to the staff.
“As soon as you park, someone will pick you up in a golf cart and drive you and all your stuff down to your boat. Use the app to order whatever you want and we’ll have it loaded up and ready to go when you get there. Other marinas don’t give you that kind of customer service,” said Richards. He anticipates an opening date later this year and is now actively soliciting clients to add to the waiting list for upcoming available slips.
Richards is also the proprietor of Michael Anthony Productions DJ Entertainers and Lighting (michaelanthonyproductions.com), specializing in wedding events, and since 2018 he has been the designer and decorator of the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park Christmas Lights show, hanging over half a million lights each year for the downtown festival.
Riverview Marina will be open to members and their guests and is located at 10531 Moody Rd., south of Riverview Dr. and west of U.S. 301 on the north bank of the Alafia River. To find out more, visit rivmarina.com, Facebook @RiverviewMarinaFL or call 1-833-DRY-DOCK (1-833-379-3625).